We are approaching the end of my New Zealand showcase interviews. The penultimate installment is with Andrew Keoghan. Check it out!
TWD: There are a few things I've been asking everybody. First is, tell me something that I should check out if I ever get to New Zealand that isn't in Lonely Planet or Let's Go. Something cool or different.
Andrew: I know the perfect spot. You need to go near Kaikoura, which is north of Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand. In Kaikoura, there's this little area where the seals hang out. It's called Ohau. It's this little secret spot on the road next to the sea. Usually you get told where to go and walk up this little track. It's where all the baby seals come play in a pool while their mothers are out catching and collecting food for them, for like a month or so. There are hundreds of them. You just stand there with hundreds of baby seals around you and they're all playing in waterfalls and it's a surreal experience. It's typical of New Zealand, there's no barrier, there's no guide. It's just you and a hundred baby seals. It's kind of cool.
TWD: That is kind of cool. It's very cool! Are you familiar with This is Spinal Tap, the film?
Andrew: Yeah, I absolutely am.
TWD: Ok. And Almost Famous?
Andrew: I saw that a long time ago.
TWD: What I'm interested in is, in Spinal Tap there's the Stonehenge scene, which is kind of the epitome of everything going wrong. And then Almost Famous, there's the scene where he's on the roof and he's saying "I am a golden god!" I'm asking people for Stonehenge moments and golden god moments. Something that sucked, something was a triumph during your career playing music.
Andrew: [via email post-interview] Last year I played a show where my loop pedal kept short-circuiting during this one song because I had a ratty old lead in my setup. Every time it happened I'd nearly finished layering the guitar, vocals, and violin parts, and bang, it would cut out again, leaving only an awkward silence. When it does that, it wipes what you've put down and you have to start from scratch. On the third attempt, the power stayed on, but in my rush to secure the power connection, I tripped over my guitar lead and ripped it out, which made a hideous buzzing noise out of time with everything that of course was then layered on top of the loop I'd created. It was very experimental – bad experimental. With my loop pedal, there's no undo, which is part of the excitement, personally. I gave up on the loop pedal for the night to an amused reception. I've since invested in some quality cabling. Problem solved.
My golden god moment came at age 8 when I first discovered Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album, nestled in amongst my parent's classical-flavored vinyl collection. My older sister had moved out but left this small treasure behind, resplendent with her ballpoint pen-inscribed love hearts and daisies on the front cover. It was 1989 and we were living in the small New Zealand south island town of Mosgiel. After a few minutes negotiating the intricacies of stylus balancing, the vinyl crackled and bang, 8 year-old me was smothered by a blaze of Quincy Jones-produced pop genius, and it was love at first waveform. The searing strings on "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," still get me, along with that most apt of lines, "It's got a lot of power." I was helpless, bouncing up and down tirelessly on our old springy brown couch into track two, "Rock With You," followed by the knock out punch, "Working Day and Night." With disco beats and all manner of organic percussion including MJ's incessant panting, it was all so groovy I remember weeping at the time with sheer joy and fascination.
TWD: Here's a question I have based on listening to your stuff. What was a situation where you couldn't say something you know you needed to say and why?
Andrew: One of the songs on the album is about when you first start courting someone. It's going, but it's sort of slow going and you're both playing it a little bit cool. You share your feelings a little more but you don't really, 'cause you both are a little too scared to. Yeah, it's happened to me before.
TWD: I think that's happened to everyone! (laughs)
Andrew: You know what, I have a better story than that. I was at a gig a couple years ago where this guy was in the front row and he was throwing pieces of lemon in the grand piano as the pianist was playing. That was getting me kind of riled up. But he was quite big, so I ralled a couple of my friends around me. I really wanted to tell him to stop doing it, took me about ten minutes of him doing this, throwing the lemon peels in the piano, for me to build up the courage, flanked by my friends on either side. I told him that everyone behind me, everyone in the audience, including me, wanted him to leave the show. He stood up to my face, I thought he was going to hit me…and he left! The rest of show was great.
TWD: Wow, so it worked. That's good. Let's shift to something a little less open-ended. Your twitter says that you're a sandwich enthusiast. Tell me a favorite sandwich.
Andrew: I love sandwiches. My favorite has lightly toasted bread. It has chicken, it has cheese, it has pesto. And it has lettuce and tomato. There have been months in my life where I've eaten that same sandwich consistently, every day, day in and day out. It's got everything you need. I love sandwiches.
TWD: Who doesn't love a good sandwich? I think it's a great uniter.
Andrew: (laughs). I think mayonnaise is a key sandwich ingredient. Do you like mayonnaise?
TWD: I actually don't very much. I'll eat it if it's already on a chicken sandwich and not too heavy, but that's about it.
Andrew: Mayonnaise is the magic sauce.
TWD: But I find a lot of stuff I didn't like when I was younger, I've started to tolerate and even like, so maybe mayonnaise is next. I've been asking each band to give me a question for the next band, make a little chain of it. Your question is a little bit unfortunate, I think. Doesn't seem like something you would really know how to answer, but it is: Where do you get crack in New York City?
Andrew: I have absolutely no idea, but if I manage to find out…
TWD: I'm not really interested in knowing.
Andrew: It might get both of us into trouble.
TWD: Would you give me a question?
Andrew: I would ask, "If you were a dog or a cat, what breed would you be?"
TWD: That's cool. I've also been asking trying to make a little playlist with everybody. There's an alien spaceship that's coming by the earth, it's journeying trhough the cosmos, and like anthropology, it's collecting music from every planet. What would you want submitted and sent to represent humanity or your own life or be preserved?
Andrew: [via email post interview] I would say "Once in a Lifetime," by the Talking Heads, "The Rip," by Portishead, "December 4th," by Jay-Z, "She's Leaving Home," by The Beatles, "Strange Overtones," by David Byrne & Brian Eno, and "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" by Sufjan Stevens.
For more on Andrew, check out his website. There's still one more New Zealand interview to come, be sure to come back for it!